Boeing, Embraer Open Biofuel Research Center

boeing1A new research center will look to establish the aviation biofuels industry in Brazil. Aviation manufacturers Boeing and Embraer opened a joint sustainable aviation biofuel research center in the South American country.

At the Boeing-Embraer Joint Research Center in the São José dos Campos Technology Park, the companies will coordinate and co-fund research with Brazilian universities and other institutions. The research will focus on technologies that address gaps in creating a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in Brazil, such as feedstock production, techno-economic analysis, economic viability studies and processing technologies.

“Boeing and Embraer, two of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, are partnering in an unprecedented way to make more progress on sustainable aviation biofuel than one company can do alone,” said Donna Hrinak, president, Boeing Brazil and Boeing Latin America. “Brazil, a pioneer in the sustainable fuels industry, will play a leading role in establishing the biofuels industry and helping meet aviation’s environmental goals.”

“Our purpose is to support work on developing and maturing the knowledge and technologies needed to establish a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in Brazil with global reach,” said Mauro Kern, executive vice president, Engineering and Technology, Embraer. “Brazil has shown its potential and is already a benchmark for the clean-energy industry, having created very successful ethanol and biodiesel industries.”

This joint research center is the latest in a series of collaborative efforts by Boeing and Embraer, and Brazilian partners on sustainable aviation biofuel.

The Andersons Launches Campaign on Diveristy

TheAndersonLogoGrain, ethanol, and plant nutrient company The Andersons is emphasizing the diversity it brings to agribusiness. This news release from the Ohio-based company says its new brand campaign “And Beyond” includes a refresh to the corporate website www.andersonsinc.com and associated promotional materials.

“The ‘And Beyond’ campaign builds on the equity of the previous ‘And’ theme that we’ve had in place for about six years,” says Tom Waggoner, Vice President, Marketing and Operations Services. “This campaign provides a fresh perspective that keeps our brand moving forward. The theme highlights that The Andersons goes beyond the ordinary with our market expertise and beyond expectations in the strong relationships we form.”

With various business groups operating in 21 states across the country, the “And Beyond” campaign reflects The Andersons as a diversified, yet united, company. Although serving diversified industries, the business groups share a strong commitment to grow enduring relationships through extraordinary service, a deep knowledge of the market and a knack for finding new ways to add value as the company has done for nearly 70 years.

In addition to the ag sector businesses, The Andersons is also involved in railcar leasing, turf and cob products, and consumer retailing.

Groups Petition Hawai’ian Utility for Solar Support

A coalition of community groups have petitioned the Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission in support of renewable energy such as solar. The group is calling for a completion of the state’s renewable energy goals before it considers approving the purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries by Florida-based NextEra Energy. The coalition includes Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, Blue Planet Foundation, Hawai‘i PV Coalition, Hawai‘i Solar Energy Association and The Alliance for Solar Choice.

Solar panels dot the rooftops of homes in Salt Lake on Oahu, Hawaiʻi. Photo Credit: MATT MALLAMS / EARTHJUSTICE

Solar panels dot the rooftops of homes in Salt Lake on Oahu, Hawaiʻi. Photo Credit: MATT MALLAMS / EARTHJUSTICE

NextEra’s proposal to buy Hawaiian Electric for $4.3 billion was announced in early December and will require various approvals, including by the PUC. The merger application to the PUC has not yet been filed.

“Our purpose is to make sure the horse is in front of the cart,” said Jeff Mikulina, executive director of Blue Planet Foundation. “As clean energy stakeholders, we share the joint interest in making sure we complete planning for Hawai‘i’s energy future now. We don’t want to put the discussions on the back-burner and then have to start over after the merger proceeding is finished.”

“Hawai‘i customers deserve an energy roadmap to ensure we’re acting in the best interest of the public, like having access to cheaper and cleaner power, before engaging in a long and complicated merger process,” said Leslie Cole-Brooks, executive director of the Hawai‘i Solar Association.

Over the past several years, the Commission has demanded that Hawaiian Electric focus on establishing a roadmap for a sustainable, customer-focused electric grid that serves the best interests of the state and people of Hawai‘i.

The petition states that the Commission’s numerous orders, together with enactments by the state legislature, have identified specific issues and mandated specific next steps necessary to articulate “the vision, business strategies, and regulatory policy changes required to align the [Hawaiian Electric]’s business model with customers’ interests and the state’s public policy goals.” Continue reading

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/IKEA has announced solar energy plans for its St. Louis, Missouri store opening Fall 2015.  Panel installation will begin this spring, with completion before the store’s opening, making the project the largest rooftop solar array in the State of Missouri. The store is under construction on 21 acres along Interstate-64 at Vandeventer Avenue, The store’s 259,000-square-foot solar array will consist of a 1.28-MW system, built with 4,085 panels, and will produce approximately 1,780,000 kWh of electricity annually for the store.
  • Canadian Solar Inc. has contributed $400,000 to the University of Toronto’s TalentEdge program to support scientific development, cutting-edge research, and hands-on learning. Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar, graduated from the University of Toronto with a PhD in Material Sciences in 1995.
  • High school students are invited to apply for a $1,000 scholarship from the CHS Foundation, the major giving entity of CHS Inc. The CHS Foundation will award more than 300 scholarships, 100 of which will be given to high school students pursuing agricultural-related degrees at colleges and universities across the country. Students pursuing a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field of study with an interest in agriculture will also be considered. The high school scholarship application deadline is April 1, 2015. For eligibility information and application forms, visit www.chsinc.com/stewardship.
  • Yingli Green Energy has announced that it completed grid connection for a 10 MW solar power plant in China’s Hebei Province in late December 2014. The solar power plant is located in Fuping, a mountainous region in western Hebei Province. It will produce more than 12,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity per year.

Geothermal Data System Steams Into New Entity

The National Geothermal Data System (NDGS) has been spun off into a new non-profit company: USGIN Foundation, Inc. The company will commercialize the technology and infrastructure at the national and international level. The project was launched through funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) with the grant period ending December 31, 2014. The project was developed by Arizona State Geologist (AZGS) on behalf of the Association of American State Geologists.

NGDSLogoBigAccording to AZGS, the NDGS system is intended to increase geothermal exploration and development across the country by providing free, open source access to any digital data that can help, not just limited to traditional geothermal data.

The project was officially launched by DOE Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz at the White House Datapalooza earlier this year. To date the database has more than 65 sources located in the 50 US states serving more than 10 million data records including information on 3 million oil and gas wells, over 700,000 well logs, up to a million water wells, and tens of thousands of maps, documents, and reports. In Arizona specifically, every oil, gas, geothermal, and CO2 well is online in the NGDS, along with numerous other datasets.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will be streaming NGDS data into their online Global Renewable Energy Atlas with contributions from AZDS’ content models and interchange formats to the National Data Repositories coalition that has created a new online Business Rules Library for data management in the global upstream petroleum industry. Anyone can set up their own node in the network using free, open source software at the NGDS website as well as stream data to their own portal.

Is China’s Ban on Imports of U.S. Poultry Justified?

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What do you think about new US Ag Coalition for Cuba?”

There is no doubt the ag community is behind the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba and it’s goals of re-establishing trade. As time goes by it will be interesting to see how it will open up the market in U.S. food and ag exports.

Here are the poll results:

  • Will benefit all aspects of agriculture – 84%
  • Bad idea – 0%
  • Undecided – 5%
  • Haven’t heard about it – 11%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, Is China’s recent ban on imports of U.S. poultry & eggs justified?

Effective January 8, the Chinese government imposed a nationwide restriction on U.S. imported poultry and eggs following the detection of avian flu in wild birds in the Pacific Northwest. Do you think that China is right on track and it’s better to be safe than sorry or is it completely overkill with no justification for the drastic action.

Policy Uncertainty Shrinks US Biodiesel Market

nbb-advancedThe U.S. biodiesel market was a bit smaller in 2014, and policy uncertainty in Washington is being blamed for the decrease. The National Biodiesel Board says the destabilization of the industry, including the Obama Administration’s failure to finalize biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Congress allowing the biodiesel tax incentive to lapse at the beginning of 2014, caused many biodiesel plants to shut down or reduce production, dropping total U.S. biodiesel consumption to 1.75 billion gallons for the year, down slightly from nearly 1.8 billion gallons in 2013.

“These numbers reflect the consequences of policy inaction,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), the industry trade association. “The drop in production represents lost jobs and economic activity. It represents a lost opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. And it represents another year in which we fail to tackle our dangerous dependence on oil in the fuels sector.”

“The numbers would have been even lower had the EPA not signaled throughout the year that it will strengthen the RFS proposal and finalize it promptly,” Jobe said. “But companies can operate on faith for only so long. We have already seen many producers close their doors, and many others are struggling to stay open as we enter a New Year with continued uncertainty.”

Jobe went on to say that it’s frustrating because it is completely unnecessary and urged the Obama administration and Congress to put smart policies back in place.

Regulators Urged to Rethink Corn Ethanol’s Carbon Value

ace logoRegulators are being urged to re-think corn ethanol’s carbon value. In a news release from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), the group’s President of its board of directors, Ron Alverson, reveals in a white paper how corn ethanol’s carbon footprint is decreasing, thanks to technology innovations by farmers and ethanol facilities to improve the accuracy of carbon intensity modeling for biofuels.

“ANL scientists have documented significant reductions in corn ethanol’s CI since 2008. Through updates to the Greenhouse gases Regulated Emissions and Energy use in Transportation (GREET version 2.0, 2013) model, ANL recently determined that average ethanol manufacturing energy use has decreased 25%, corn farming energy use decreased 24%, corn fertilizer and chemical use decreased by 3%, and that ethanol facilities are extracting 3% more ethanol from each bushel of corn. ANL has also updated their Land Use Change (LUC) calculations with recent data and now estimate LUC of just 7.6 grams of CI, a 75% reduction from the widely used and outdated estimate of 30 grams CI. A significant portion of this reduction resulted from soil carbon modeling which predicts soil carbon sequestration from corn,” Alverson notes in the White Paper.

“Unfortunately, low carbon fuel market regulators, such as the U.S. EPA and the California Air Resources Board, have yet to acknowledge these improvements and update their models with this new science,” continues Alverson. “Because fossil fuel CI is getting worse and corn ethanol CI is improving, failure to account for these trends unfairly penalizes biofuels in low carbon markets.”

Alverson, a farmer and founding board member of an ethanol facility in South Dakota cited new research and improved modeling by the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. He argues that “corn farmers have responded to market signals and rapidly adopted precision application technology to reduced fertilizer application rates,” new realities those regulators need to now consider.

Nat. Gas Inventories Up, Wind to Lead Renewables in 2015

eiaNatural gas inventories are up dramatically from last winter, and wind is expected to lead renewable energy capacity additions in the coming year. Those are just a couple of findings in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest Short-Term Energy Outlook. EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski says those prices for natural gas have also dropped to two-year lows as growing domestic natural gas production has bolstered the inventories.

“Natural gas inventories at the end of the winter heating season in late March should be about 9 billion cubic feet above the five-year average, much higher than the same time last year when inventories were approaching 1 trillion cubic feet below normal.”

Sieminski adds that following nearly two years of relatively moderate generation capacity growth for renewables, wind power will be the clear leader in utility-scale renewable capacity additions in 2015.

“About 11 gigawatts of wind capacity is expected to enter service in 2015, the second-highest level of generating capacity that the wind industry has ever added in a given year.”

The EIA report goes on to say that petroleum producers continue to see dropping prices for crude oil and many oil companies have cut back on their exploration drilling in response. However, petroleum production is still expected to climb in 2015, as those producers concentrate drilling activities in established areas that already have productive wells.

Ethanol Producers Meet RFS without Final Rule

RFANewlogoThe latest data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that ethanol producers met the 2014 statutory requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) without a final rule, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen says RIN generation data just released by the EPA show that 2014 volume obligations expected by Congress could have easily been met, and that there was no reason for the RFS waiver proposed – and later rescinded – by EPA.

According to EPA, 14.34 billion “renewable fuel” RINs were generated in 2014, almost perfectly in line with the statutory requirement of 14.40 billion. When combined with surplus RINs carried over from previous years, total renewable fuel RIN stocks are estimated to be well over 16 billion. While some small portion of the 2014 RINs generated will be retired for exported volumes, the data clearly show that compliance with statutory volumes could have easily been achieved.

“Had the Agency just implemented the statute as written, there would have been no drama,” commented Dinneen. “As EPA and the White House finalize the 2014 rule and turn their attention to 2015 and 2016, this data sends a strong message that the U.S. ethanol industry is up to the task. We can and will deliver the volumes established in the statute, provided that EPA enforces the law as written.”

In November 2013, EPA proposed to reduce the 2014 requirement for renewable fuel from the statutory level of 14.4 billion gallons to just 13.01 billion gallons. Today’s data show that RIN generation outpaced EPA’s initial proposed volume by more than 10 percent.

Today’s data also show that RIN generation for cellulosic biofuel — long labeled by oil companies as “phantom fuels” — was nearly double the volume proposed by EPA in November 2013. The Agency proposed a cellulosic biofuel requirement of 17 million gallons, yet RIN generation finished the year at nearly 33 million.

Chevy Premiers Bolt EV Concept

Chevrolet has premiered its Bolt EV concept car, a long-range all-electric vehicle designed to offer more than 200 miles of range starting around $30,000. Leveraging the electrification prowess established by Volt and Spark EV, the Bolt EV concept is designed to offer long-range performance.

“The Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra. “Chevrolet believes electrification is a 2015 Chevy Bolt EV Concept Carpillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers.”

According to Chevy, drivers will be able to select operating modes designed around preferred driving styles such as daily commuting and spirited weekend cruising. The modes adjust accelerator pedal mapping, vehicle ride height and suspension tuning. The Bolt EV concept is also designed to support DC fast charging.

“We have made tremendous strides in technologies that make it easier and more affordable for Chevrolet customers to integrate an all-electric vehicle in their daily lives,” continued Barra. “The Bolt EV concept demonstrates General Motors’ commitment to electrification and the capabilities of our advanced EV technology.”

Click here to learn more about the Bolt EV.

DOE Offers $2.5M to Improve Wind Forecasting

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has allocated $2.5 million to help improve wind forecasting. Louisville, Colorado-based Vaisala will research the atmospheric processes that generate wind in mountain valley regions and the data will be used to improve wind weather models for short-term wind forecasts. Better forecasts will allow energy plant operators to operate wind turbines closer to maximum capacity.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 11.51.02 AMThe industry has found that mountain-valley areas bring additional challenges including varying degress of soil moisture and surface temperatures making it more difficult to forecast wind energy output. Vaisala and its partners will use advanced meteorological equipment to analyze specific environmental characteristics that affect wind flow patterns in the Columbia River Gorge region of Washington and Oregon.

Data collected during the project will be shared in near real-time with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Energy Department’s national laboratories, and will be used to develop improved atmospheric simulations for the Weather Research and Forecasting model, a widely used weather prediction system. These new wind measurements and simulations will also be incorporated into NOAA’s Numerical Weather Prediction models to improve short-term wind forecasts in complex terrain.

This important research builds on the Energy Department’s Wind Forecast Improvement Project, which previously explored wind energy resources in the northern Great Plains and western Texas. For the first time ever, NOAA assimilated wind data from tall turbines and nacelle anemometers into meteorological models for use by the wind industry and other sectors. Integrating these new data into existing models produced forecasts that were up to 15% more accurate at predicting future wind conditions in nearly flat terrain.

Wave Energy Costs Favorable

According to a new analysis published in the journal Renewable Energy, large-scale wave energy systems developed in the Pacific Northwest should be comparatively steady, dependable and able to be integrated into the overall energy grid at competitive costs to other forms of renewable energy including wind power. The study finds that wave energy has less variability than some other energy sources and that by balancing wave energy production over a large geographic area variability can be further reduced.

Variability of renewable energy production from sources such as solar or wind have been a concern and often require back-up energy sources leading to extra costs. Wave energy may be a more reliable and ultimately less expense option when the technology is future developed.

Ocean Sentinel“Whenever any new form of energy is added, a challenge is to integrate it into the system along with the other sources,” said Ted Brekken, an associate professor and renewable energy expert in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University.

“By producing wave energy from a range of different sites, possibly with different types of technology, and taking advantage of the comparative consistency of the wave resource itself, it appears that wave energy integration should be easier than that of wind energy,” he continued. “The reserve, or backup generation, necessary for wave energy integration should be minimal.”

Today, wave energy is not being commercially produced in the Pacific Northwest, but the researchers expert its future potential is significant, and costs should come down as technologies improve and more systems are developed.  In addition, the study suggested, that its short-term generation capacity can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy over a time scale ranging from minutes to hours, and with some accuracy even seasonally or annually.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/Algae.Tec Limited has announced it has executed an agreement with China Finance Strategies Investment Holdings Ltd (CFS) under which Algae.Tec will issue an initial US $0.5m convertible bond and, subject to the achievement of certain milestones, will issue US $5m conditional options to CFS, and CFS will introduce Algae.Tec’s unique technology into the greater China region.
  • Survalent Technology’s Advanced Distrubution Management System (ADMS) took home the award for the Best Smart Grid Solution at the 2014 Rural Smart Grid Summit (RSGS), held at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • The report “Global Wind Turbine Value Chain – Production, Market Share, Competitive Landscape and Market Size to 2020,” provides an overview of the global wind power market, examining major drivers and restraints, global wind power capacity and generation data broken down by region, country, and segment (onshore/offshore). It also looks at the wind turbine market, covering global average turbine size, price, market size, and manufacturer share in terms of installations. The report discusses the global wind turbine value chain, examining the key components of a wind turbine: the rotor blade, gearbox, tower, and generator. It analyzes the production, cost, market size and major trends for each component, as well as major companies’ competitive landscapes.
  • TerraForm Power, Inc. has announced that it has commenced a $350 million underwritten public offering of shares of its Class A common stock. TerraForm Power has also granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase additional shares of its Class A common stock. TerraForm Power intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to fund a portion of the previously announced acquisition of certain power generation assets from First Wind.

NEC Scholarship Award Winner Announced

rfa-nec-15The Renewable Fuels Association and Renewable Fuels Foundation are proud to announce the student scholarship award winner for the 20th annual National Ethanol Conference: Going Global next month in Grapevine, Texas.

This year’s scholarship winner is Laís Thomaz of Brazil, who received her master’s degree in international relations in 2012 from San Tiago Dantas, a graduate program supported by three of Brazil’s premier universities. Her dissertation, which focused on the role of advocacy groups in the shaping of ethanol trade policies, was published as a book by Brazil’s Editora UNESP. Her research previously won the Top Ethanol Award promoted by the Brazilian Sugarcane Ethanol Industry Association (UNICA). She is currently a Ph.D. candidate and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Government at Georgetown University.

The RFA/RFF scholarship provides students enrolled in higher education with complimentary registration at the conference, giving scholarship recipients the chance to connect with hundreds of leaders, policymakers, and experts associated with the renewable fuel industry. Only students who focus on renewable fuels in their studies and intend to pursue a career in the industry are eligible to receive the scholarship. This is the sixth consecutive year in which this scholarship has been made available to students.